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Council Houses & Prefabs

At the end of World War II, North Dorset Councils had a waiting list of around 1,250 families wanting affordable housing. Many of these applications came from families with service personnel who had fought in the War. Councils responded in two ways.

Prefabricated ‘temporary’ homes, intended to last for ten years, were built. They were called ‘prefabs’. Thirty five were planned by Sturminster Newton Rural District and another twelve by Blandford Borough. They would provide comfortable accommodation for many families and they lasted so long they were proven to be far from ‘temporary’.

Secondly, many publicly owned houses were built that became known as ‘council houses’. Neither the council houses nor the prefabs were constructed to be easy on the eye but they were well-built and designed to be practical rather than attractive. They had both indoor toilets and bathrooms which many of the new occupants had not known before. However, the ‘council houses’ and ‘prefabs’ looked identical with each group often being painted in the same colour.

By December 1946, work on the following North Dorset new homes had begun:

Blandford Borough 127; Shaftesbury Borough 225.

Rural Districts - Sherborne 225; Shaftesbury 214; Sturminster Newton 351 & Blandford 120.

So many council houses and prefabs were built that by 1951 some 15% of all homes across Britain were publicly owned. Council houses built just after the war can still be seen in North Dorset today but are now mainly in private hands. Today, most have central heating, front doors have a different colour and some former council houses have conservatories added. The former ‘council houses’ no longer all look the same.

(Image: former Council Houses in Pimperne)


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